Turnstile performs at The Anthem on Oct. 9, 2022, in one of Kyle’s favorite shows of the year. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)
2022 was a bit of an up and down year. Things settled into the new post-pandemic normal, which meant plenty of shows to see but lingering Covid cancellations and postponements. It was great to get back into photo pits all across the region but the rash of cancellations in the spring and summer showed just how fragile the touring economy is. I don’t see circumstances changing that much in 2023, so I will likely continue to mask up for indoor shows and I urge you to do the same if you care about the bands you see, their touring personnel and the venue staff that make these amazing shows possible.
But I digress. Here are my top 10 gigs of 2022.
1 – Rage Against the Machine @ Capital One Arena — 8/3/22
I shot the first night of Rage’s two night stand in DC and was so blown away by the three songs I got to see that I bought a ticket to see the show again on night two. I’m a card carrying member of Gen X so this show brought back so many memories and feelings from my twenties in the best way possible. The band were ultra-tight and absolutely smashed it. I loved the sparse stage set up as well. I had been worried Zack de la Rocha’s injury would take away from their energy and dynamism but nothing could have been farther from the truth. Simply incredible.
2 – Pavement @ Masonic Temple, Detroit — 9/24/22
3 – Pavement @ Warner Theater — 10/6/22
Sticking with another one of my Gen X obsessions, these two shows were probably the biggest surprises of the year for me. Pavement, God bless ‘em, have always been hit or miss as a live act. I am STILL bitter about the shitty show they played at Irving Plaza on my birthday in 1997 (a few tracks from this show were released as part of the Terror Twilight reissue). But these two shows were damn near perfect, leaning heavily on Wowee Zowee and Brighten the Corners. I think the Detroit show was a bit tighter and better as a whole while the D.C. show started a bit slow but had a better climax and a perfect encore. Best of all, the band seemed to be having fun and I got to hear “Blue Hawaiian” both nights. Also, road trips for concerts fucking rule. See your favorite bands as many times as you can!
4 – Spoon @ 9:30 Club — 4/12/22
I saw three Spoon shows in four days back in April and this was the best of the bunch. I started off in Richmond at The National, where the band played their loosest show, followed by their two-night stand at the 9:30. The first 9:30 shows was great, but the second was the one that really stood out. Lucifer on the Sofa is among the band’s best work and all of that material sounded superb live.
5 – Rosalia @ The Anthem — 9/26/22
I’m not going to lie and say I even knew who Rosalia was before this show, but it was by far the best produced show I saw all year and maybe the best stage set up I’ve ever seen at The Anthem. It was quite literally a stadium show in a (relatively) small venue. She had two HUGE video screens on either side of the stage and a cameraman with her shooting it like a movie. This was one of those shows that makes you think, “why aren’t all shows like this?”
6 – Dua Lipa @ Capital One Arena — 3/2/22
This was just a fun show early in the calendar that really set a good tone for the rest of the year. Incredibly fun with the audience going absolutely crazy for a great performance. Sometimes big pop shows are the best.
7 – Jane’s Addiction @ Capital One Arena — 10/18/22
Somehow I had never seen Jane’s Addiction before this show. I am still kicking myself for not going to their 2009 NINJA tour with Nine Inch Nails, but better late than never. No Dave Navarro on this tour due to CV19, but replacement Troy Van Leeuwen filled in admirably. Unlike this show’s headliner, Perry Farrell and Co. stuck to what they do best and their most well known material. They sounded incredible and I got to check one more band off my bucket list. I’d see them again in a heartbeat.
8 – Phoebe Bridgers @ The Anthem — 6/11/22
I joke to my friends that this was Rage Against the Machine for teen and tween girls and I mean that with 100% sincerity and respect. It felt like every single audience member at this VERY sold-out show was fully invested and singing their heart out to each song. By far the best vibes at a show I saw all year.
9 – Turnstile @ The Anthem — 10/9/22
The only other time I’d seen Turnstile was at Songbyrd when it was still in Adams Morgan, so this was quite the upgrade. I’m not a hardcore fan by any means but after this show it was easy to see why these guys have crossed over to a bigger audience. They should tour with IDLES or The Hives and battle it out every night.
10 – Pet Shop Boys + New Order @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 9/21/22
I’ve seen New Order three times in the last few years and this seemed like the best show of the bunch, they were locked in all night. The Pet Shop Boys were over the top in all the best ways and it was nice to not be the oldest person at a show for once.